Saturday, July 23

Honeywell's quest for cleaner more sustainable outcomes

If you would like to read about Honeywell’s quest to be innovative and secure a cleaner, healthier  and more friendly environment click here.

Of course companies should always be encouraged to adopt socially environmental  responsible practices. In fact this should always have been the case. It as an indictment of our civilised sate to think otherwise.
My preference is for descriptive provisions or guiding principles as otherwise we are in danger of thinking ethics and environmental sustainability rests only be in the hands of highly trained people.
Honeywell's approach gives one considerable encouragement that enhanced corporate social responsibility goes hand in hand with a superior brand recognition to benefit both  shareholders and the environment. This is part of a quiet revolution not widely reported in the popular press that has ben going on for decades.

But a lot of the benefits have been lost in the growth in populations and because of rampant consumerism. Recent trends suggest  however that the rate of growth has reduced steadily from the 1970's, mainly due to a slowing in fertility rates. In the meantime as the global population continues to increase, albeit at slower rate, many more enlightened corporates are finding new ways to reduce our energy and material footprint.     


susan said...

While what is written for public consumption sounds wonderful, I still find it next to impossible to trust any huge multinational corporation. I didn't have to look very far to find this article about Honeywell's continuing lack of corporate responsibility. Interestingly, after a long negotiation with the Canadian government a few years ago they agreed to pay for environmental remediation of a site left polluted by a company they had recently acquired. The primary interest of big business is to maximize profits for shareholders, a goal that doesn't often meet the needs of the general population. I wish I could believe things are improving - I really do.

They do make very nice thermostats and room fans.

Best wishes, Lindsay.

Lindsay Byrnes said...

Hi Susan,
It’s always good to get another view but having worked with large multinationals for most of my working life and having undertaken research into more sustainable, environmentally friendly business practices I can tell you for sure many take the matter very seriously.
I think the trend improved during my tenure and will continue to do so as shareholder interests are not incompatible with good outcomes for the environment as I suggested in the post.

Rather obviously the bad publicity surrounding the events in the references doesn’t help Honeywell’s cause one iota but that doesn’t doesn’t mean the company as a whole takes its responsibilities any less lightly as is presented in the public document.

Employing 129,000 people, inevitably there are going to be instances of very unsatisfactory outcomes and for the company to operate in industries which don’t have a good track record when handling highly hazardous materials. A fair swag of the 129,000 people employed in Honeywell would own shares in the company and have an interest in it doing the right thing – often well in excess of what I expected by government regulation or even community expectations.
From my experience I also don’t see any evidence government organisations or co-operatives do any better as a whole unfortunately it’s the less desirable part of human nature in individuals, just as it is reflected in companies to go off the rails from time to time, and hence the need to be ever vigilant. But overall the trend is improving as people become more aware through enhanced social media and as shareholders take more interest in outcomes.
However as indicated in the referenced article it is true the Hopetown plant in Virginia for instance has a deplorable environmental track record, where, according to officials an alleged spill of usoline occurred from 2013 to 2015 which was thought to have caused a major fish kill. Honeywell agreed to pay $300K in penalties and to make $13 million in upgrades to the plant without admitting any wrongdoing. But Honeywell in 2016 is expected to spend approximately $250 million in voluntary clean-up costs of the Hopetown plant according to Bloomberg prior to it's intended divesture.
Best wishes

susan said...

Thanks so much for the clarification, Lindsay, and for adding detail and nuance to the article I referenced. I admit I do have a lot of concern about those companies that do go off the rails and then don't even try to find a safer track.

All the best